Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 25, 2010

PAT ROBERTS WANTS OBAMA TO BE LESS 'SERIOUS'.... President Obama spoke to the Senate Republican caucus' lunch today, and by all accounts, there was no love lost. The discussion was held behind closed doors at the GOP's request, but participants later described the back and forth with words like "testy," "candid," and "frank."

Which, of course, is fine. Senate Republicans want to take the country in one direction; the president has a very different vision. The two sides disagree about practically everything. When they get together to chat about policy, it stands to reason that they would clash.

But there was one quote from a participant that stood out for me.

"The more he talked the more he got upset," Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) said. "He needs to [take] a valium before he comes in and talks to Republicans and just calm down, and don't take anything so seriously. If you disagree with someone, it doesn't mean you're attacking their motives -- and he takes it that way and tends then to lecture and then gets upset." [emphasis added]

I haven't the foggiest idea what Pat Roberts is talking about here. He's complaining that the president cares too much about the substance of the discussion? That Obama should be less "serious"?

What?

Look, I know Pat Roberts isn't an especially profound senator, but he should at least appreciate the larger situation. President Obama is leading in a time of multiple generational crises, all of which he inherited from a failed Republican administration. While trying to clean up the mess, Senate Republicans have opposed everything -- usually just for the sake of opposing -- and taken institutional obstructionism to scandalous levels, without precedent in American history. On most of the major policy challenges, the same Senate Republican caucus has not only blocked reasonable proposals, it's also spent a fair amount of time blatantly and shamelessly lying.

No compromise, no good faith negotiations, no willingness to meet in the middle, no understanding that elections have consequences. This is the m.o. of the Senate Republican caucus for the last 16 months, no matter how much effort the White House invested in pointless "bipartisanship." I can see why Obama might feel a little aggravated when talking to a group that helped create the mess, refuses to help clean up, and spends every waking moment attacking him for the way he's tending to their mess.

So, when the president and this caucus get together for a chat, some heated exchanges are to be expected. But we can do without the frequently confused senior senator from Kansas encouraging the chief executive to "take a valium" and not take matters "so seriously."

Steve Benen 4:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (45)

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Comments

Totally, agree. Obama doesn't need to chill out. Obama needs to get shit done. I'm actually glad to hear this report.

Posted by: Justin on May 25, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

This sounds like a complete lie to me; when has anyone ever seen Obama lose his cool?

Of course, a complete lie is exactly what we'd expect from a Republican Senator, but still, STFU already.

Posted by: pParkerT on May 25, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Given the truth challenged Republicans, I'm not sure how accurate the Senator is in reporting this meeting. I suspect it's spin given the fact that the President's demeanor in public meetings with Republicans has been anything but overwrought.

Posted by: Diane Rodriguez on May 25, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I think the President should appoint Jimmy Carter to the Presidential Commission of Getting On a God Damn Nuclear Sub-Fucking-Marine and Heading Down to the Gulf and Blowing that God Damn Gusher All to Hell with Torpedoes and Sealing That Shit Forever God dammit...

WTF? Where's Yankee ingenuity anymore? That Georgia cracker, Carter, probably still has it..."Git 'er done..." as those crackers say...

And as for the Repugnants in last 16 months, the only thing that makes sense for President Obama to say to them is "Kiss my ass."
That shouldn't take too long either.

Posted by: neill on May 25, 2010 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Oh that hothead Obama. Always uptight, needs to smoke a bowl.

Posted by: Christopher on May 25, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

It was probably a repeat of the last time , with the Republicans drilling him with talking points and Obama responding with well thought out and judicious answers making them all look very stoopid

Posted by: john R on May 25, 2010 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

I hope someone recorded this session and is willing to replay it for the rest of We, The People. That a Republican politician is taken at his word is not credible. They have lied so many times that if one were to tell the truth without editorial deviation, it would be worthy of a headline story. But, the MSM would not carry it because it would not fit their narrative. The truth does not get headline; it gets buried.

Posted by: st john on May 25, 2010 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

I can't see where the President would get the idea that Republicans are attacking his motives? Where would he possibly get that idea?

Posted by: anomimouse on May 25, 2010 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

The discussion was held behind closed doors at the GOP's request

WTF, no c-span? Obama should have said no way to this request.

Posted by: flyonthewall on May 25, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

And we played 1-on-1 basketball and I kicked his @ss. Good thing there weren't any cameras there to record the whoopin'.

Posted by: Pat Robertson on May 25, 2010 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP came out of their last televised spanking from the president and lied their asses off about what had transpired. If they lied then, with cameras having recorded the entire event, no doubt they are telling some HUGE WHOPPERS about what happened now.

Posted by: June on May 25, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP is just planting the meme-seed that Obama is childish, and that The Grown Ups need to get back in charge.

Posted by: nobuddy on May 25, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'll credit Roberts with a fair degree of accurate reporting about this meeting. For whatever reasons, Obama simply doesn't have it in him to publicly eviscerate the GOP, and they know it. Of course they laugh in his face when they're behind closed doors, and of course he resents it.

Posted by: JL on May 25, 2010 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

What could Obama hope to gain from meeting with the GOP?

Posted by: Daryl Cobranchi on May 25, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think that this might be considered a one word slip. If Roberts had said "personally" instead of "seriously" he wouldn't have made a fool of himself.

I'd be willing to give Roberts a pass if Republicans allow me to substitute "during" for "in" in two quotes of Richard Blumenthal.

I do think the slip is revealing. Roberts seems to think that people shouldn't get upset about politics. A cynic doesn't get upset thinking, of course they lie, that's how the game is played. We are lucky that Obama doesn't see it as a game and knows that politics affects real people with real problems. That does make him take it seriously even if he doesn't take it personally.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on May 25, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

So instead Obama being the Joker, it's Roberts: "Why so serious?"

Posted by: DonBoy on May 25, 2010 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and that Obama is uppity. A two-fer.

Posted by: nobuddy on May 25, 2010 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Obama was unwise to go into that den of thieves w/o camera proof of their discussion. They lie through their asses and he knows that. I'm beginning to wonder if he really isn't getting it. I know he's trying to govern from the center and that he's not President of the Progressives, but, he just doesn't seem to get it that they are out to muderlize him...(sorry Moe)

Posted by: stevio on May 25, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

And, I think he used a teleprompter.

Posted by: st john on May 25, 2010 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I think that this might be considered a one word slip. If Roberts had said "personally" instead of "seriously" he wouldn't have made a fool of himself.

I'd be willing to give Roberts a pass if Republicans allow me to substitute "during" for "in" in two quotes of Richard Blumenthal.

I do think the slip is revealing. Roberts seems to think that people shouldn't get upset about politics. A cynic doesn't get upset thinking, of course they lie, that's how the game is played. We are lucky that Obama doesn't see it as a game and knows that politics affects real people with real problems. That does make him take it seriously even if he doesn't take it personally.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on May 25, 2010 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I understand the skepticism, but I believe that Roberts' account is probably accurate. The GOP doesn't believe the crap they spew and Obama does believe in taking the arguments seriously. That combo is guaranteed to lead to difficulties.

It's a fundamental difference between the two parties. In general, the Dems are policy-focused and the GOP are politics-focused.

Posted by: danimal on May 25, 2010 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, and uhh... what had happened was...uhm, while we were there a skinny white boy dressed up like a 1970's pimp came in with on of his hos and got advice from the president on how to get goverment run healthcare to treat her bad case of the clap.

We were all outraged...except for Vitter, he seemed a little nervous.

Posted by: Winkandanod on May 25, 2010 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Obama seems to be quite conciliatory toward the GOP members of Congress.

Perhaps this encounter will fire him up to help the Dems win 60+ seats in the Senate.

Prediction: If Dems get 61 or more seats in the Senate then Republicans will start to behave better.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on May 25, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

If you disagree with someone, it doesn't mean you're attacking their motives -- and he takes it that way and tends then to lecture and then gets upset.

This is bizzare coming from a Republican. Republicans have done nothing but attack Obama's motives (socialist, crypto-muslim, terrorist-enabler); its no surprise he's taking things a little personally. It doesn't help when there are no substantive arguments made against his positions, only fear-mongering apocolyptic visions.

Posted by: inkadu on May 25, 2010 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Roberts is only reflecting the GOP mindset--policy does not matter, government can do no good, deficits do not matter (unless a Democrat is President), this is all a game and in the long run we are all dead and he/she who has gotten the most lobbyist money wins.

Posted by: Terry on May 25, 2010 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

This is just one more shiv in Obama's back, and a taunt. It is part and parcel of the Senate GOP's claim that they are open, reasonable, and engaged in good faith - and that it is Obama who isn't playing ball, and is partisan/immature/inexperienced/too serious/incompetent/extreme ... and therefore to blame for the hyperpartisanship with which the GOP meets him.

You have to hand it to Roberts - he is nicely on message.

Posted by: Bokonon on May 25, 2010 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

I read his remark to mean not that the President takes policy too seriously, but Republican BS.

"He needs to [take] a valium before he comes in and talks to Republicans and just calm down, and don't take anything so seriously. If you disagree with someone, it doesn't mean you're attacking their motives -- and he takes it that way and tends then to lecture and then gets upset." [emphasis added]"

So basically, some Republicans started calling him a Nazi Communist Kenyan (or whatever words they used - same point) for trying to keep the country from falling apart, and he gave them shit for it.

Hey, don't take it seriously, Barry! We're just giving you the business. We don't have important jobs here or anything!

Posted by: mantis on May 25, 2010 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

If you disagree with someone, it doesn't mean you're attacking their motives. . .

Then what's their problem, if not their motives?


They were such jerks Barack Obama lost his cool? No, not the party of 'go fuck yourself'!

Who wants to bet some goofball started blathering on about his birth certificate?

Posted by: cld on May 25, 2010 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

"President Obama is leading in a time of multiple generational crises, all of which he inherited from a failed Republican administration"

So the crises are generational, and ALSO originated in the last eight years? Okay...

Maybe it's semantic, or a matter of temperment or perspective, but "multiple generational crises" sounds a bit hysterical to me. What are these crises?, and how are they the fault of any one presidential administration?

Posted by: flubber on May 25, 2010 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

I think that this might be considered a one word slip. If Roberts had said "personally" instead of "seriously" he wouldn't have made a fool of himself.

I'd be willing to give Roberts a pass if Republicans allow me to substitute "during" for "in" in two quotes of Richard Blumenthal.

I do think the slip is revealing. Roberts seems to think that people shouldn't get upset about politics. A cynic doesn't get upset thinking, of course they lie, that's how the game is played. We are lucky that Obama doesn't see it as a game and knows that politics affects real people with real problems. That does make him take it seriously even if he doesn't take it personally.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on May 25, 2010 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

1: I'd have to see Barack lose his cool to believe it. Conveniently for the GOp, they insisted this meeting was behind closed doors.

2: how pathetic is it that a Republican is claiming victory in a all-versus-one "exchange of ideas" that they didn't have the balls to let the public see? I guess as pathetic as Republicans have been thus far this century.

3: If this were to be true Roberts' comments are quite normal for the bully-boy mentality prevalent in the GOP: we're gonna destroy you, we're gonna humiliate you, we're gonna eviscerate you, you lying communist terrorist loving scumbag!

Hey, I take offense...

Aaah, lighten up pussy! Why are you lying communist terrorist loving scumbags so sensitive?

Posted by: slappy magoo on May 25, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's semantic, or a matter of temperment or perspective, but "multiple generational crises" sounds a bit hysterical to me. What are these crises?,

Srsly?

The near collapse of the banking system and the global economy? The collapse of home prices and crushing personal, commercial, and government debt? The effects (collapsing infrastructure, exploding oil rigs, dysfunctional schools) of decades of lax regulation and deferred maintenance? The outsourcing of most of our manufacturing base? The collapse and co-opting of mass media as a check on elites?

Any of this ringing any bells, Mr. Magoo?

Posted by: Jimmy Jazz on May 25, 2010 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

This is par for the course for the cry-baby Republican's. I hereby propose they be known as the party of "we can dish it out, but we can't take it."

Posted by: tanstaafl on May 25, 2010 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

This is the oldest and crudest tactic in the book, calling someone who pushes back on your carping and sniping 'hysterical'. It's one of the most shockingly disrespectful things I've ever heard come out of a congressman toward a president. It reveals that Roberts is, in his heart of hearts, seditious-- he does not count Obama as "his" president.

Posted by: jjm on May 25, 2010 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

I am heartened to hear the President is upset. I hope he drops the idea of bipartisanship when it is clear it won't happen.

http://www.thehamandlegsshow.com

Posted by: jham710 on May 25, 2010 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

"...Pat Roberts isn't an especially profound senator"

'nuff said. Pat doesn't think we have any problems worth getting worked up about. Pat needs to take a valium and sleep for the rest of his term.

Posted by: GP on May 25, 2010 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Obama needs to start repeating the "car in the ditch" metaphor at every opportunity, with additional embellishment. As in, "they ran the car in the ditch, so you took the keys away from them, and ever since then we've been trying to get the car out of the ditch. But not only will they not help with getting out of the ditch, they're pouting and refusing to get out of the car and adding dead weight to try to make it impossible to get out of the ditch, and they're saying they're willing to sit there in the car, in the ditch, for as long as it takes for us to decide to give them the keys."

I mean, it's not just that these guys are utter fuck-ups; that would be bad enough. What's worse is that even though they know they can't fix anything, and know they have no intention of fixing anything, they want to make sure no one else can fix anything, either.

These people are the reason why we can't have nice things!

Posted by: Jennifer on May 25, 2010 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

But that's just a standard conservative/libertarian belief, that government does too much, and that the nation would be better off if most things government gets involved in would be left to chance. Perhaps we wouldn't be better off, but at least they figure the government wouldn't be wasting billions on projects that they believe do no good anyway, like cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico after an oil spill.

Calvin Coolidge once said, "If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you." He also said, "Four-fifths of all our troubles would disappear, if we would only sit down and keep still." Conservatives consider Coolidge to be one of America's greatest Presidents.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on May 25, 2010 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Coolidge"

Well, the RepuGs do so love a man who puts down strikers, don't they? Coolidge as Governor of Massachusetts helping to put down the police strike in Boston and St Ronny with the air traffic controllers. No wonder St Ronny had Cal's picture on his wall in the Oval Office. BTW, racist Woodrow Wilson, also, admired Cal for his handling of that strike. Gompers asked the striking policemen to go back to work only to be undercut by hard liner Cal.

But, perhaps the KSU Wildcat Roberts is still perturbed at Obama for picking KU in the Big Dance.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 25, 2010 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Correction:

Roberts is the the junior senator from Kansas, not the senior senator.

Posted by: Jane Vieu on May 25, 2010 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'm proud of Obama for standing up to the rethuglican lynch mob.

Posted by: Raoul on May 25, 2010 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP wants to impugn Obama's motives, call him unpatriotic, a socialist, a communist, a fascist...but they want him to realize that this is just meant as good fun, as "politics"--not to be taken seriously.

It's like, chill out, dude!

Posted by: Nancy Irving on May 26, 2010 at 5:18 AM | PERMALINK

By "testy" is meant that Obama stood up to the Republican b.s. and threw it back in their faces. Anyone who stands up to their bullying is too "serious".

Posted by: bob h on May 26, 2010 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

Roberts will not become the senior senator from Kansas until Brownback steps aside to run for Governor of Kansas. Brownback was sworn in to fill out the term of Dole, thereby, becoming a Senator just prior to Roberts.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 26, 2010 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

Remember when he was Spock?

"He needs to [take] a valium before he comes in and talks to Republicans and just calm down, and don't take anything so seriously. If you disagree with someone, it doesn't mean you're attacking their motives -- and he takes it that way and tends then to lecture and then gets upset."

I actually would agree with this if Republicans were working with Obama in good faith and weren't regularly questioning his motives -- calling him "un-American", etc... I mean Newt Gingrich just recently compared Obama to the Nazis and Stalin.

I don't know what Pat Roberts is smoking, but he's living is a different reality than the rest of us.

Posted by: Tom on May 26, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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